Monday, November 2, 2015

Resetting, goalsetting, and dreamsetting

You never want to have to write about things that don't go according to plan. Well, two weeks ago things did not go to plan at all.

Ironman MD redo was two weeks ago. While I didn't expect to have the race I initially planned for, I still felt fit and felt it would still be a good day. Rescheduling flights and travel plans was chaotic and I wasn't able to fly out until Thursday afternoon because of work. I got into BWI at 930 pm and was racing Saturday morning, so this was going to be a heck of a turn around! My mom and I stayed in Baltimore Thursday night and drove to Cambridge Friday morning. With the reschedule of the race, the race directors were nice enough to have athlete checkin on Friday and bike check in until 930 pm that night! This never happens for IM events! Having all this in the same day made things more than chaotic though.

As soon as we parked, I had to put my bike back together to take with me to check-in so I could get it tuned up. I got to check-in, dropped my bike off for a tune-up, and then went to the athlete meeting. Once that was finished, we trekked back to the car so I could change and get a bike and a run in. Once I finished my bike, I met my mom at transition and dropped my bike there and ran back to the finish/expo area where we were parked to fill my gear bags for drop off. I actually felt solid running, but on the bike I felt off. I just attributed that to shaking off the traveling from the day before. Anyway, at this point my dad had arrived, so I quickly filled my gear bags and had my parents circle transition while I dropped my bags and so we wouldn't have to find parking again. AND FINALLY, I could get lunch! BUT our hectic day was not over. We were actually staying 30 miles away in Salisbury because there was no lodging available in Cambridge. Friends who do this one in the future, make sure you book lodging a year ahead of time for IM MD and be prepared to drop some money on it. I had originally decided on Salisbury from the get go simply because lodging is outrageous in Cambridge.

Seeing as I was completely exhausted by 7, I was out cold by 730 and slept relatively well (which NEVER happens) until my 330 am alarm. I had most of my stuff together already and we were out the door by 4 and off to Cambridge. My parents somehow found a guy who was renting out his lawn (for a fee) for parking right near transition!! So my walk was short and I got to avoid taking shuttles. I loaded my bottles onto my bike, double checked gear bags, booked it to the port-o-lets, and then went on to relax before I had to shove myself into a wetsuit. Also, I totally met somebody who lived in Los Alamos as a kid. SMALL WORLD.

 Port-o-potty lines are fun guys! Especially in the cold and wind!

630 finally rolled around and I put my wetsuit on and then, the race director comes on the intercom. SHIT. I should point out that it was pretty friggin windy, but meh. So my first thought was that they were cancelling the swim. DAMMIT. Turns out a small craft advisory had been issued so they shortened the swim to 1.2 miles. REALLY!? Then they came on 15 min later and said just kidding, we are making it 3000 meters (800m short of the real iron distance) and start time had been moved to 730. JUST ADD THE 800 m BACK IN - the race is no longer an Iron distance anymore (I feel bad for the people where this was their first)!!! SO more waiting. Finally, it was time to line up. I got in line at the the sub 1 hour expected swim finish and was really skeptical about this rolling swim start thing. I, for one, am a fan of mass starts. I tend to feed of the adrenaline of the frantic mass start and I was still not quite feeling like I was getting ready to do an ironman. I needed a spark. Turns out, I didn't need it because once we started and I was battling the men out the inlet into open water I was feeling like it was race time. One thing I am not a fan of is two-loop swims. Since I was in the first group of swimmers, I had relatively (albiet choppy) clean water ahead of me and didn't have to do much in the way of passing. NOT true on the second loop. Sorry to all those I dunked and ran over - not on purpose actually! It is just hard to navigate around 1600+ of your best friends in choppy water. My goal was to be first out of the water in my AG, and I was. Had it been the full iron distance swim, I would have PR'd my best iron swim time by about 2-3 min (53-55 min) based on the pace I was going in much harsher conditions than my last one.  I knew I was up there for the women too since there were only 2 women in the change tent before me and I felt relatively good. ALSO - I totally made the official race video at the swim exit!

Time to bike! (also, my outfit AND my bike match)

I took longer in transition than I normally do because I was trying to dry off and get warmers, gloves, and a vest on. It was cold and windy, and I didn't want to spend the next 112 miles freezing my ass off.  Finally, I got myself out of transition and ....oh holy headwind. YAY WIND. My bike splits the first 13 miles or so were slower than I expected, but I was trying not increase my power just to overcome the wind. Patience paid off and once we hit a more protected part of the course, my splits were hovering around 20 mph, while staying in my power zones (actually slightly lower). I can't really remember when the trouble started. I noticed my splits dropping off at around mile 40 - which I assumed was wind, because HOLY WIND BATMAN. However, when I came around on the second loop, power and speed really began dropping off. I remember a section where I was just spinning my legs and my cadence was really starting to falter. AND THEN, I was dizzy and I felt sleepy, not fatigued, but like I could literally fall asleep while riding. I was in salvage mode, I ate more food - it didn't help, I increased salt- no help, I ate drank more - no help. I was feeling nauseous and was having a hard time staying "in things."  A guy I had passed way earlier came riding by and asked if I was ok and if I needed any nutrition or anything. WAS I EVEN BIKING IN A STRAIGHT LINE? WTF is going on. In fact, there is a big spot of 30-40 miles in the bike that I don't really remember, but I remember being there. Then the last 2ish miles were really bad. We were biking through town and there were lots of people lining the roads, but I was in serious trouble and really just had tunnel vision just trying to get back to transition.

I really thought I just not having a good day and needed to sit down for a few minutes before I took off on the run. I could handle a bad race - anything can happen in an Ironman. It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't finish. Once I dismounted my bike I started "walking" to go rack my bike. Walking is a relative term here. My mind said I was walking and I thought I was walking, but I was more stumbling. People were shouting for medical and I kept brushing them off saying I needed to go run. 10 ft later I couldn't stand on my own anymore. I still didn't think my race was over, but emergency personnel sure did. I am sure I was just peach to deal with. I know I kept telling them all I needed to do was go pee (I really really needed to pee), and I was obsessed with my hands and lips being numb. I think I passed out briefly, but if I did, I don't remember. I was in and out for about 3 hours until half way through the second bag of saline in the ER. And I was freezing cold.  I don't think I was warm again until later that night. Also, I am pretty sure I was giving the guy setting up my IV a hard time when he dropped the thing and blood got all over my arm. Or I just wouldn't sit still. Either one. They discharged me saying I was dehydrated (bloodwork shows I wasn't) and that I was blacking out (shocker), and my ketone levels were so high they couldn't measure them. I felt well enough when I left that I noticed the clock said 6 pm.....I still had my timing chip on and 6 hours or so to finish before cut off. I tried to convince everyone and anyone I could and we should go back so I could finish the marathon. That didn't fly so well.

Later, when we were back at the hotel, I was just in a state of "what the hell just happened?" I know I was fine on my fuel plan, I know I wasn't dehydrated, and I know I was not undertrained. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my primary care for follow up. He noted a few things from the bloodwork they gathered - no evidence of dehydration, glucose levels normal, blood in my urine, and high white blood cell counts. One would think I would be fainting from lack of nutrition or dehydration, but that wasn't the case. He ordered another round of tests including an EKG. Fast foward to that Friday. Well everything came back normal EXCEPT for the EKG (inverse T-wave - which could many anything) and he was going to consult with a cardiologist. WHAT THE EFFING HECK IS GOING ON?! I still haven't heard anything.

So me, being an annoying scientist, did some digging on my meds. I switched to wellbutrin last spring and haven't really been the same physically or mentally since (see BLST 70.3 writeup). It can cause heart flutters, confusion, and dizziness in rare cases. It also does some weird things with weight loss, so it may be that I was having a hard time metabolizing things and my kidneys were in overdrive (wbc's, ketones, blood). Maybe at that level of exertion, I was experiencing some of the rarer side effects? Unfortunately, the pool of endurance athletes on wellbutrin is small, so no studies have been done. I am talking to my psych tomorrow about going off antidepressants completely - don't worry, I still have mood stabilizer and anti-anxiety meds. There are cases of bipolar where it has been found that an antidepressant is not necessary, in fact, in some cases it can make things worse. In my case it has been get fat or get sick. So I am done and fed up with them. Hopefully getting off wellbutrin helps and I see my EKG go back to normal.

The last few weeks I have pretty much stepped away from the sport to reset. I needed to actually be ok with what happened at MD. I finally came to the conclusion that I can't really feel guilty about it. I did everything right and there was nothing I could have done to prevent what happened. I also got a tattoo so I needed to be out of the pool anyway. I also know that I have improved. I PR'd my sprint time by 5 min from bike and run improvement. AND prior to my body quitting at IM MD, I was having a good race. As for goals for next year - I have IM TX, Vineman (assuming I get in), and IM AZ. All good things to look forward to. Finally, I have picked out a dream race - Isklar Norseman Extreme Triathlon (iron distance). See video below:


  1. Too bad we didn't get a photo of Dad and my faces when you wanted to continue the race after leaving the ER. You did have an awesome race despite the bump in the road. Every tri adds to the learning curve. :-)

  2. You did everything right. You are just stubborn like a few other members of this family. Once I had a broken shoulder, but I insisted on waiting until after a mare foaled before I went to the ER. I foaled her using just one arm, as the other one just hung, useless. My shoulder was broken on a Thursday night, and I went to the ER on Saturday. Sometimes we just need other people to look after us and keep our stubbornness in check. :)